Samsung Electronics is converting one of its wafer fabrication lines in Hwaseong plant in Gyeonggi Province active since mid-2000s to turn out CMOS image sensors (CIS) starting the first half next year to meet growing demand for mobile imaging, high-end photography, and security and surveillance applications.
Complementary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS) image sensor - dubbed as CIS - is a key element of digital image recording and in growing demand for applications in self-driving vehicles on road and air.
During a conference call on Thursday, the world’s top chipmaker that has been lagging behind Sony in the chip-based mobile image sensor capacity said it was planning to use some of the facilities at the Line 11 in Hwaseong complex to boost output from the first half of next year. Timing and scope of output would be decided after studying market conditions and outlook, it said.
The earlier-stage fab lines in Hwaseung plant built from 2000 are mostly devoted to dynamic random memory chips.
Competition between the market leader Sony and Samsung Electronics had been heavy over CIS essential for high-pixel smartphones since they replaced digital cameras. Sony has a solid lead, responsible for 44.5 percent of global supply including iPhones. Samsung Electronics is at second with a share of 15 percent as it supplies the component for Samsung premium phones.
CIS also mounts on automobiles for head-in and back-in parking cameras. It would become essential part of autonomous cars that must have sensors all around to drive on its own.
“The applications would stretch from automobiles to virtual reality (VR) and 360-degree cameras,” said a Samsung Electronics source.
In the same conference call, Samsung Electronics said it would “significantly” up capital investment this year from 25 trillion won last year, but won’t invest additionally to bolster capacity in DRAM chips. DRAM chip prices strengthened sharply in recent months due to tight supply against increasing demand.
By Lee Dong-in
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